In a previous article on strategies to improve recruitment and retention in home care, I mentioned offering career progression to direct care workers. Career progression is a selling point in a very competitive recruitment market.
One way to manage career progression is to create a career path. So, let’s spend time this week to consider how to implement a career path for caregivers.
Why is Implementing a Caregiver Career Path Important?
Since 2020, the pool of caregiver applicants has shrunk. Because many caregivers come to home care from other industries with little to no experience of direct care work, training is more critical than ever for agencies. Having a structured approach to training, supporting a well-articulated career progression, is a great selling point.
Training is valuable to caregivers who want to grow in their knowledge of the profession. Having a career path indicates that your agency looks for professional caregivers with aspirations for professional development, not dead-end jobs. Most caregivers will be pleasantly surprised that your agency offers opportunities for advancement and invests in the skills of its workforce.
A career path, and the associated training mastery, also serve your clients better. One of the perennial complaints from clients is that their caregivers are not trained properly. This lack of training is experienced by clients when caregivers are not supported at the start of a case and when their caregiving skills are lacking. Skills training allows for flexibility and adaptability of caregivers to a multitude of situations. Skills training gives them the confidence to face more challenging and unusual circumstances.
During the pandemic, training outside of COVID care and infection control really took a backseat. Launching a career ladder will give you an additional incentive to reboot your training program.
Understanding the Career Path for Caregivers
The concept of a career path is quite common in the nursing profession. When choosing a career in nursing, nurses can access the different levels of professional certifications (LPN, RN with a BSN, or without). Nurses can also focus on specialized areas of medicine (e.g., dialysis care, OR, pediatric).
A similar approach works with professional caregivers (sometimes referred to as Home Health Aides or Certified Nursing Aides). Home Care Pulse Training suggests structuring the career ladder with five steps from Novice caregiver to Advanced beginner, Competent caregiver, Proficient caregiver, and finally Expert caregiver.
A career ladder also provides a clear path for wage progression. It spells out what it takes to reach each rung of the ladder, and what pay increase comes with each level. Training embedded in a career ladder is a win-win: the agency gets better care professionals and caregivers get better income opportunities.
How to Get Started
A career path provides recognition and rewards caregivers for increasing levels of knowledge and expertise.
Building a career path for caregivers means spelling out what it takes to become a competent caregiver and creating stepping stones on the way. It also ties training achievements with wage progression.
A Novice caregiver needs to be trained and show proficiency in the following topics:
- Understand their role as a non-medical caregiver
- Rules and requirements of HIPAA
- What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)
- Understand the plan of care
- Observe and document client care
- Fire safety
- Control fall risks
To reach the Advanced Beginner and Proficient level, caregivers need to show proficiency in:
- Hands-on care
- Patient transfer
- Infection control in the home
- Patient and personal safety
- Communication with families and cognitively impaired adults
To be able to create higher levels on the career path, it means looking at specialty care. It starts with understanding your clients’ care needs:
- What are the conditions your clients have? Dementia is driving many requests for home care.
- Do you get many inquiries about other conditions? COPD, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
This analysis will help you know what the most impactful specialties are in your community. Then the progressive training and associated career path become clear. Most agencies do not create their own training program. Two-thirds use a vendor such as Care Academy or Home Care Pulse Training to offer training modules online.
Training is valuable to caregivers who want to grow in their knowledge of the profession. If your agency has a career path, prospective caregivers will be impressed by the opportunity for advancement. A career path showcases professionalism to your clients and your workforce.